The event that has become a tradition on Saipan for Thanksgiving Day, unfortunately, will not be held this year, as Northern Marianas Athletics has decided to cancel the 36th Mt. Tapochao Turkey Trot Run due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NMA president Ramon Tebuteb said that since the Turkey Trot usually draws more than 100 participants, having the event on Nov. 26 will go against the CNMI’s governments safety rules on large crowd gathering. Last year, 135 joined the 4.2-mile race from Lower Base to the highest peak on Saipan.
“The NMA board has canceled the association’s remaining activities due to the pandemic. Until such time that the CNMI has been officially cleared from restrictions, the NMA board will continue to suspend its activities to take into serious consideration the health and welfare of the community,” Tebuteb said.
Jeff Race, who has participated in more than 20 editions of the Turkey Trot, though saddened with the cancelation understood NMA’s decision.
“Oh, no! That’s unfortunate, but safety is our priority,” said Race, whose been on Saipan the last 33 years and remembers missing only a few Turkey Trot races.
“I won’t miss it this year. This event has been part of my Thanksgiving morning tradition. Unofficially, I will run up to Mt. Tapochao on Thanksgiving Day,” the CNMI Sports Hall of Famer said.
Race’s daughter, Gabi, started doing the Turkey Trot when she was just 11 years old and through she won’t be able to join her dad this year, she relishes the moments of her previous treks to Mt. Tapochao with her friends and the couple of first place finishes in the NMA event.
Charlie Sendin, another regular at the Turkey Trot and was the overall first finisher in the 2012 race, looks forward to this year’s event as he does every year because of the challenging course—up and down and paved and coral road. He is confident that the competition will be back next year and hopes NMA could have another event before the season wraps up
Under NMA’s annual calendar, it’s season-ending event is the Christmas Island Relay.
Tebuteb said no decision has been made as far as the relay event is concerned, as the NMA boar is still working on a proposal for the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force.